Interviewee: Dorothy McDuffy Fitzpatrick
IWY SC 585
Interviewer: Kathy Carter
Date: June 11, 1977
Dorothy McDuffy Fitzpatrick, from Columbia, South Carolina, attended the state IWY meeting because she was concerned with discrimination against women and people of color at all levels of professional life. Fitzpatrick led the conference workshop on women, counseling, and mental health. Interview includes discussion of her interest in many different political movements, how as an African-American woman she had a particular interest in sex and race discrimination in professional fields, the lack of a “global attitude” in women’s organizing, and her interest in women and mental health.
Kathy Carter: Would you please give me your name and your address?
Dorothy McDuffy Fitzpatrick: Dorothy McDuffy Fitzpatrick, 2230 Hampton Street, Columbia.
KC: Uh, what brought you to the meeting today, Ms. Fitzpatrick?
DMF: Um, let’s see (announcer in background at 0:14). Two things. One, (unintelligible at 0:18).
(Break in recording at 0:19)
KC: You were telling me why you came to the meeting today?
DMF: Yeah, um, as a professional woman, I’m very much concerned with a blatant discrimination of women, and blacks, um, across the board, from upper and lower echelons of professional life. And that is not unique to any one profession. I just found it to be an educational kind of thing. The second reason is that, um, for several years I’ve been into lots of different kinds of movements. And I had gotten kind of lax about community involvement – gotten, um, somewhere between little and none. And this looked like an opportunity now to not necessarily make great contributions, but at least participate in a process that I hope ultimately will bring about some constructive change, not only in South Carolina, but across the country.
KC: What kinds of constructive change do you hope to come about?
DMF: Well, for once and for all, I’d like to see people, um, be able to proceed in their various professions in ways that have nothing to do with sex or race. Um, for obvious reasons, my first concern is with the racial discrimination, because it really doesn’t make any difference at this point in the United States history whether I am a woman or a man, except to the extent that I’m a black person. Um . . . the second part of it, I imagine, is the fact that, um, we, here in America, are still living under the illusion that we are a home of the free, and the brave, and that kind of thing, and that everything is hunky-dory, and like cherry pie and apples, and all of that stuff. And it’s . . . it’s not like that. And there are entirely too many people in this country who, for various and sundry reasons, are not aware of it, because their own lifestyles don’t give them an opportunity to be, you know. They’re either in positions, either by birth or by wealth, that make them ignorant to certain things. Um, which is not a fault of anybody’s, simply a fact of life.
And I just don’t feel like they’re very many people here, in this country . . . and I’m consistently saying country, because I’ve, you know . . . it’s very good for a South Carolina conference. But unless we, I feel, maintain a global view of the situation, as it exists, then we’re going to find ourselves with, um, fifty different ideas, fifty different priorities, and all. Despite the fact that there’ll be a national conference in Houston. If we don’t have a global attitude, leaving South Carolina, then we’ll have a New York set of priorities, we’ll have a South Carolina set of priorities, we’ll have a Florida set, a California set, that kind of thing. Which is something that I don’t know, while it has been on mind of anybody else. But that’s the kind of problem with me. (Laughs)
KC: I understand your concern there. What have been your reactions to the conference so far?
DMF: Well, um, it’s really been peripheral, you know, even though I’m a workshop leader and, um . . .
KC: What workshop are you leading, please?
DMF: Mental health and counseling. I know nothing at all about the initial planning, and that kind of thing. I have had nothing to do with that. Um, so, what I’m looking at is what anybody walking in off the streets would see. Now, whether or not delegates and others are satisfied with the conference as they see it going, I couldn’t say. Um, I certainly could not, um, make a judgment on it one way or the other, because I just don’t know enough about the intricacies of its planning and all to be able to say, well, it was, it was done in a way that, um, everybody got a chance to participate, and that kind of thing. Now, what I see as I walk in the door, looks like something that is going to be, um, demonstrable, is going to be exemplary, it’s going to be, um, hopefully dynamic. But that’s a look before the fact. You know, ask me tomorrow, and I’ll . . .
KC: May have a different opinion . . .
DMF: May have a different opinion.
KC: Right now this is your impression.
KC: What kinds of resolutions might you hope, as a woman, to see coming out of these workshops?
DMF: Out of my particular workshop? Um, there are certain issues in mental health and counseling that, again, are universal issues, is . . . if we’re talking about the United States as our universe. But they are usually the kinds of issues that have nothing to do with the specifics and the uniqueness of women. You know, like, discuss mental health, but generally when you hear “mental health”, it has nothing to do with the mental health of women as opposed to, you know, a big view of mental health. There are, um, issues in physical health that have to do with mental health. And usually they are in terms of, um, health as we know for a male-dominated society. And, um, women are alike as men are. But then women are different as men are. And those kinds of things that are unique to women need to be given strict attention to.
Like the whole idea of gynecological health. Now, see, there’s something to be said about a woman’s mental health as far as childbirth is concerned, but there should also be something said about the fact that there are women who do not have children. And because they do not have children, then, they still have certain, unique, biological, um, systems that are not given strict attention to. You’ve almost got to be pregnant, or about to be pregnant, or at least in the maternal age limit, you know, to be, to have some consideration given the physical concerns. And that’s one. But the second one would be, um, oh everything from rape to alcoholism. From depression to schizophrenia. From . . . you know, I just . . . it’s (unintelligible at 7:22).
KC: (Unintelligible at 7:23) Is there anything else you would like to add to this record?
DMF: I’m afraid not. Your questions have been very good, I think. And, um, it, it . . . are you the first person’s really pressed me this month. I’ve been asked a lot of questions, but none that I felt had any particular depth to them. Um, and, you know, those who know me well would laugh at this, but, you know, at the moment, I’m at a loss for words. You’ve asked me, I think, some excellent questions.
KC: Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure talking with you.
DMF: All right.
End of Interview